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This hymn was written to be sung to the tune “O Waly Waly” (“How Blessed is This Place”). It proceeds from Jesus’ prayer for the unity of His people, to the Crucifixion by which His Church was born, to the post-Resurrection period in which He was made known to His disciples by signs, wonders, risen saints, open wounds and in the breaking of bread. The heart wrenching yearning of His prayer for the Church is linked to the on-going suffering His Body experiences as a result of our disunities. The sacrifice of the Cross is linked to the healing of this Body through the Love among us by which Christ expects to be lifted up for the healing of the world.
I am grateful for the teachings of Chiara Lubich, foundress of the profoundly effective ecumenical movement Focolare, for the concept that it is only through identification with the Crucifixion – the abandonment of Self in love – that we may effect the restoration of the unity within human relationships and within the Church for which Christ died. [Read more…]
Spiritual friendship begins with unity, and unity begins at the Cross of Christ. We need help learning how to approach and enter into dialogue with people of other faiths, lesser faith, or no faith, without denying our own beliefs. St. Pope John Paul believed this kind of communication is the key to evangelization in our day.
I once gave a version of this talk to Serra Club as “In Conversation with Islam,” and thoroughly enjoyed weaving in insights from Chiara Lubich and the Focolarini who graciously taught me about their charism of unity in Ottmaring, Germany. Focolare is officially known as The Way of Mary, and her way is unity in the Body of Christ – per the prayer of her Son as He faced the sense of being completely forsaken on the Cross. His self-abandonment to the Divine Will, and Mary’s yearning to help us “to be one” with one another are the keys to fruitful dialogue.
Unity: one-ness, integrity, wholeness, continuity, undividedness, solidarity, relatedness and harmony of the parts of a whole, consistency; a quality: the attribute or characteristic or nature of something that is, that has being, that is real.
The word unity describes the relationship between things and thus it is specific to the perspective from which you view those two things; a living work of art, of beauty, that Christ is creating among us. Because its elements are alive – human beings – it is constantly a ‘new thing’, a dynamic thing formed of the movement between elements and not a static thing formed once and for all.
In this talk, I took the St. Paul’s plea to the Ephesians that they “maintain the unity of the Spirit” (Eph. 4: 1-3) and looked at four ‘faces’ of unity to see what that unity looks like with the different people in our lives.
1. Unity with Unbelievers
2. Unity with ‘Taskmasters’
3. Unity with Spouses
4. Unity with Self
This was an interesting topic to work on, and I like the handout I developed for it: Damned Lies and Divine Truths. If I give this talk again, I’d like to include mention of the spirituality of unity as understood by Chiara Lubich, foundress of the Focolare movement. I had a wonderful experience with Focolarini in Ottmaring, Germany during which they taught me priceless lessons from her insights into this crucial quality of community. The key, they say, to unity: identification with Christ forsaken.
Here’s a post about becoming small so as to create unity with another person, to facilitate loving communication.